A great thrift store in Cayucos

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.

By DELL FRANKLIN

We have the most reasonable and underrated thrift store in the county, and maybe in the state. Just about anything you need can be found in the Cayucos thrift store, a nonprofit and senior center operated by longtime citizens past retirement age; little old ladies who have been around Cayucos for decades (and have had successful professional careers), are dedicated to getting things done, and have become the backbone of the community. Always in good cheer, they volunteer their time to work shifts mornings and afternoons.

When a purchase is made at this thrift store, the lady behind the old oak desk takes out a notebook and records the sale, writes the price and item type, and there is nothing exchanged but cash, like the old days when money was stuffed into cigar boxes.

And where does the money go? To a fund that provides two vans driven by volunteers to transport those too old to drive, or too sick or immobilized to get around, to hospitals, the airport and the train station in San Luis Obispo. And to offer college scholarships to young students who can’t afford it.

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I always leave the price tags on certain items I purchase at this thrift store, so that when my sister comes up from an affluent Southern California suburb, where she lives in a state-of-the-art home with the most modern conveniences, I show off mine—like the microwave that lasted me six years and served me well and only cost $10. The coffee maker, a Bunn, that had a $2 tag on it, that lasted over five years. My swivel chair on wheels is over ten years old, so the $5 tag has worn off.

All my spatulas, ladles, large forks, oven mitten and tweezers for bacon snaring are from the thrift store and hang on nails in my kitchen, an affront to my sister (not an extravagant or pretentious person but one who requires high-end essentials), I’m sure.

I’m still living like the institutionalized pauper I have always been, and am reliant on thrift stores.

This winter, as it grew cold, I purchased two big fluffy pillow cases, a T-shirt in perfect shape, and two hooded sweat jackets — one with the NYPD emblem sewn in and the other a Polo, all for $5 as everything was half price.

When my sister visited over the holidays and I showed her these purchases with great pride, she conceded I had scored big, but it was obvious she would have nothing to do with any of these items, like most of the people who live in Cayucos.

But the one good thing about living here in the lifestyle I do, is that the newly rich moving in only use garments and appliances for a short time before donating them to the thrift store, because they possibly feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, I suppose, in anything showing the wear of time.

To me, the items I buy at the local thrift store, and especially garments, are broken-in just right. In fact, my entire wardrobe, which mostly consists of T-shirts, shorts, and hoodies, has been supplied by the Cayucos thrift store, where my selection of such attire hail from brands like Ralph Lauren Polo, Calvin Klein, Jockey, Nike, Speedo, Banana Republic, Quicksilver, Everlast, Lands’ End, Rainforest Cafe, Columbia and Nautica, to name a few.

In fact, if one visited my abode, they would find the influence of our thrift store overwhelming, for my place fairly teems with Cayucos thrift store purchases on walls and mantles and in corners—two digital clocks, a wall clock that could be termed an antique, several old Rogue Voice covers (my literary journal from 2005 through 2008) ensconced in frames from the thrift shop, a flask, duster, sofa covers, floor mats, small pillows, blankets and comforters, including several for my dog on his pallet in my office and outside on the deck, a fan ($5), three goose-neck desk lamps, a hat, a broom…

While culling these objects over the years, it has been most pleasant being in the company one finds in the Cayucos Thrift Shop: Fellow scroungers and scavengers expertly rifling through various stacks for treasures, revealing not a shred of shame at their efforts to better themselves with somebody else’s hand-me-downs, bottom-feeders to the core and proud of it, and treated politely and with great appreciation, as if we matter, by the ladies running the store.

(When I mention I’m looking for something, and they don’t have it—like a desk lamp—one of the ladies promises to keep one in reserve for my next visit if it comes in; and, after knee surgery, they supplied me with crutches.)

The Cayucos thrift store is here to serve basic needs, and since it is not under ownership like so many in this county, there is no pressure to buy anything, there is no owner trying to push items as quasi-antiques and jacking up prices. I haven’t even tapped certain sections of the store, like sports jackets, long pants, dress shirts, polo shirts, shoes, and various appliances, large and small, not to mention books and magazines.

One of my many fears is that Cayucos will become so wealthy and chichi it will run out of bottom-feeders like myself, and there will be no need for a thrift store, for we will become overrun by people who feel subsisting on a thrift store is somehow demeaning to one’s image and status, a possibility that might inflame me further as those who think they know better impose their entitled demands on one of the last little beach towns with local color, character and characters.

Long live the Cayucos Thrift Shop!

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